First Time User? Enroll now.
Find Vaccine information, visitor restrictions, and additional resources
Home > Health Library > Birth Control Hormones: The Pill
Combination pills are used to prevent pregnancy. Most people call them "the pill."
Combination pills release a regular dose of two hormones, estrogen and progestin. They prevent pregnancy in a few ways. They thicken the mucus in the cervix. This makes it hard for sperm to travel into the uterus. And they thin the lining of the uterus. This makes it harder for a fertilized egg to attach to the uterus.
The hormones also can stop the ovaries from releasing an egg each month (ovulation).
You have to take a pill every day to prevent pregnancy.
There are different kinds of packages for these pills. The most common one has 3 weeks of hormone pills and 1 week of sugar pills. The sugar pills don't contain any hormones. You have your period on that week. But other packs have no sugar pills. If you take hormone pills for the whole month, you will not get your period as often. Or you may not get it at all.
In the first year of use:footnote 1
Be sure to tell your doctor about any health problems you have or medicines you take. He or she can help you choose the birth control method that is right for you.
Trussell J, Guthrie KA (2011). Choosing a contraceptive: Efficacy, safety, and personal considerations. In RA Hatcher et al., eds., Contraceptive Technology, 20th ed., pp. 45–74. Atlanta: Ardent Media.
Current as of:
June 16, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Kathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineRebecca Sue Uranga
Current as of: June 16, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Rebecca Sue Uranga
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.